Updated: Mar 4, 2019
I have 4 beautiful kids. They are unique, delightful, athletic, witty, and fill my heart with joy and pride. My first two were wonderful babies and toddlers. They went through typical difficult phases, but never did I feel like I couldn’t handle it. Then I had my third baby and, well, it wasn’t the same. He was hard, like really hard. I had my fourth just 16 months later and he was just like the first two. That hard baby is four years old now and my thoughts and feelings on him are deep and numerous.
PC: (L) Patti Smith Photography, (R) Nicole Bowman Photography
When you have a “hard baby”…
You second guess yourself. I remember feeling like I had no idea how to be a mom even though I had already been through all of this twice. I felt like I was failing every single day.
You question your love for that baby. How can I be so angry with an infant? How is my toddler literally making me pull out my hair and scream? I must not love him enough – that was my thought.
You feel strangely protective. Even though he was hard, and those close to me knew it, I felt like I spent so much time explaining all the great things about him. Yes, he’s hard, but he’s super cute and he’s a good eater and he says “mama”. I didn’t want to leave him with trusted friends and family because I didn’t want them to have bad thoughts toward him. Those thoughts belonged only to me.
You have dark thoughts and they are scary. I remember telling my husband one dark, hard day that I wanted to throw the baby out of the window. And I had visualized this in my mind and my only concern was that once he was gone no one would be crying. Thankfully my husband immediately stopped working and came upstairs to help me. It makes me cry to remember that day and those thoughts.
You eventually love that baby much harder than the other babies you might have. And I don’t mean you’ll love this baby more, you’ll just love them harder, deeper, more intense. My love for this boy is now so fierce. It’s like our bond was forged in the fire and is unbreakable. Only I know how hard he really was and every day I had to make the choice to love him and take care of him anyway.
You need to make sacrifices. This boy truly taught me to be selfless. It seemed like nothing I wanted to do was possible when he was a baby. I even had a job opportunity that I chose to pass up because I knew that if anything outside of our home caused me stress that I wouldn’t have the patience to properly deal with him. A mentor pointed that out to me and 3 years later I couldn’t be more thankful that she did.
Someday you’ll understand why the baby was hard. Now that he’s a preschooler, I see how he interacts with the world, how he feels strongly about things, how emotional he is, and how short his attention span is. Really, his entire babyhood makes total sense to me now. I couldn’t see it then, but now I can cut myself some slack. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t him. It just was. He couldn’t communicate except for crying and I couldn’t figure him out.
You’ll probably, possibly, maybe have a hard preschooler. I have decided that this boy will probably always be a little harder than the other kids. He’s bigger now, more energetic, still cries a lot, has lots of words, and still has a short attention span. He’s still hard. But knowing now what I didn’t know then carries me through what we are currently dealing with. I made it through is babyhood and I’ll make it through the rest of his childhood.
You’ll savor and rest in and count on all the good things. Your perspective changes in such a way that you see the world differently. This boy of mine is emotional, but this also includes the happy emotions. No one is happier than him when he’s happy. He’s energetic and he can hike mountains – at 4 years old! He’s excitable, and nothing brings me more joy than to see that emotion all over his face. He has a wonderful imagination that keeps him busy for hours. You see, he’s actually a wonderful boy.
Mom, fear not if you have a “hard baby”. Moms have been raising those kinds of babies for centuries and you can’t convince me that these kids don’t go on to do great things! If I could go back, I’d ask for more help. I’d let my trusted friends and family keep him more often. I would remind myself that every kid is different and that I can’t keep comparing him to my other kids. I’d never question my love for him. I’d make those same sacrifices and even more of them for him. I can’t go back, but I can encourage you. You got this, momma. You love that baby, even when you aren’t so sure. Take it one hour at a time, one day at a time. And before you know it, he’ll be getting ready to go to kindergarten and you’ll thank the good Lord that, next year, for 6 hours a day, someone else has to take care of him! You’ll pat yourself on the back and declare that you made it!